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Thread: Bounce box

  1. #1

    :banana Bounce box

    Hey everyone! New guy sorta speak so bare w/me if you will. I did a quick search but didnít see my question so here goes ... I have to take meds on a regular basis. Obviously Iíd be carrying some w/me but I was hoping to be able to use a bounce box for their re-supply on an ongoing basis. Now the question(s) ... How likely are they to get to the next pickup town? Can they be counted on or? How often would you suggest? Appreciate your thoughts! Thanks!

  2. #2
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Okay, it's technically illegal to mail prescription drugs unless you are a pharmacist or medical provider - even to yourself. https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c4_019.htm Whiteblaze prohibits discussing illegal acts, so no one here should tell you to go ahead and it will arrive okay just like anything else you might mail.

    That said, here's the general lowdown on mail from a prior post [with an edit].

    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    USPS regulations instruct offices to hold general delivery mail for up to 30 days. In practice this means that post offices will hold packages from between 14 and 30 days. If their hike is delayed, thru-hikers should call the PO and let them know approximately when they will be in, or give forwarding instructions.

    Remember to take a list of hours and PO phone numbers in case needed. Also, plan for the worst case scenario - you get into town late Sat and miss the PO and have to wait until Mon or even Tues (holiday weekend) to get your mail. This is one of the disadvantages of mail drops. First class and Priority can be forwarded for no extra cost provided you don't take possession of the parcel. You can forward it in person, over the phone, or possibly by sending a letter or post card to the postmaster at the office. I wouldn't trust the latter as there's no way of confirming it.

    Typically, post offices that are in AT trail towns are very aware of thru-hikers and go out of their way to hold packages for a minimum of 30 days, and many will simply hold them until the end of the NOBO thru-hike season, especially in the north. In my wife's former office in VT they kept thru-hiker boxes on a separate section of shelving and would return to sender any unclaimed boxes in late October/early November to clear space for the increased holiday season mail. [Late season SOBO's take note: Put an anticipated pick up date on any mail drops for this reason.] If they were sent First Class or Priority, and no one made contact, they will without further info generally be returned to the sender's address as Unclaimed - Addressee abandoned or failed to call for mail. And note that Parcel Select (online) or Standard Post (thru USPS) packages cannot be forwarded or returned without additional postage.

    Many USPS employees are supportive and enjoy hearing from thru-hikers as they pass though. One of my wife's USPS co-workers just completed (last week) becoming an AMC White Mountain's 4,000 Footer Club Member - all 48 WM 4,000 footers - and in a single year!

    BUT, the USPS is undergoing a lot of changes. As Postmasters retire or leave their office, they are now sometimes being replaced by displaced district office people who have little actual experience running an actual office, or staff from non-trail towns. So there is that chance the person running the office is unaware of what through the years has typically been preferential treatment of thru-hiker boxes.

    Private businesses like hostels, etc., are a whole different matter. Call and find out.

    Some basic USPS info:

    1) Mark all boxes "Please Hold for AT Thru-hiker"

    2) If you aren't going to claim a package within two weeks of it's arrival at the PO, CALL and let them know, and/or mark an anticipated P/U date on the package, and/or send a post card to the Postmaster. You do have a list of trail PO's and their contact info, right?

    3) Fuel (iso-butane canisters, alcohol, Esbit) cannot be sent Priority Mail or First Class (even if you mark it Ground Only ORM-D). It can ONLY be sent by Standard Post/Parcel Select, marked as Ground Only ORM-D. ALL Priority and First Class mail is considered and treated as air mail by default. Even if just mailing to the next town. Anything that can't fly can't go First Class or Priority because of the way the distribution hub system works, plus the chance of forwarding/return, misrouting, etc., and somehow, even accidentally, winding up on an airplane. You will not be able to forward or have these packages returned unless you provide additional postage.
    And this one relating to fuel and other hazardous stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    USPS is forever changing. Especially now that Congress is in full gear completing its sworn mission to destroy the Postal Service.
    What can and can't go Priority Mail has changed due to distribution methods, hubs, etc.
    Here's a bit of some copy and paste from some prior research, plus some new research on the subject of mailing stove canisters, batteries, etc., with thanks to Mrs. Buzzard (Clerk and Postmaster) for guiding me through the ever changing USPS regs.

    Look here http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52apxa.htm#ep725700 for just about any material

    Lithium batteries http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c3_026.htm Basically, Standard Post (Surface) ONLY

    FUEL:
    http://pe.usps.com/archive/html/dmma...3.htm#Rap37720
    Methanol is allowed according to this analysis
    http://math-wizard.com/Pub52ORM-D.pdf

    The following can
    only be sent Standard Post (formerly Parcel Post) and must be marked "Consumer Commodity ORM-D (other restricted materials-domestic)" and "Surface Transportation Only" (USPS label #127).

    Esbit/solid fuel: Permitted, similar restrictions as gas canisters. http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c3_021.htm and http://pe.usps.com/archive/html/dmma...3.htm#Rap37720

    Gas canisters - They can ONLY be mailed via Standard Post (formerly Parcel Post) - but CANNOT be mailed via Priority or 1st Class Mail, even if marked "Ground Ship Only" (see links). The reason is that all 1st Class, Priority, and above is routinely carried by aircraft, and USPS regulations state that any item accepted and/or charged at that postage rate MUST meet air transport restrictions. FAA and DOT prohibit air shipment of flammable gas canisters. Even if only mailed one town ahead, and even with labels saying ground only, distribution routes and/or mistakes in handling/sorting/routing could wind up with the parcel accidentally winding up on an airplane.
    Does it happen? Yes. USPS people make mistakes. Especially with all the new union busting part-time low-wage help they are hiring to replace former career employees (/micro-rant). The amount and nature of all the USPS regulations and documents can be overwhelming, and given the downsizing/reorganization going on in USPS, changes in distribution hubs, mistakes are going to be made. So some USPS offices have (and will) undoubtedly accepted Priority packages and put "Surface Transportation Only" on them. And generally, if someone is just bouncing a box up the trail it probably isn't going to go air anyway (but, it could due to the way USPS distribution centers work or a missent parcel). The real world outcome? Those little gas canisters are pretty robust and well engineered for a reason.

    They can be mailed (but not internationally). http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c3_019.htm
    They can only be sent Standard Post (formerly Parcel Post) and must be marked "Consumer Commodity ORM-D (other restricted materials-domestic)" and "Surface Transportation Only" (USPS label #127). http://pe.usps.com/archive/html/dmma...3.htm#Rap37720

    Parcels must adhere to primary container quantity restrictions of less than 1 liter in volume total per mail piece (for hiker purposes, that equals 3 small 110 gram canisters) http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c3_019.htm#ep898824
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 12-08-2019 at 15:47.

  3. #3

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    Thank you! Hadn’t really given that much thought but it makes sense. I guess I just need to come up w/ some other way to get them. Any ideas?

  4. #4

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    PillPack from Amazon might be a reasonable solution. Instead of a bounce box, you would just get your medications directly shipped to each town you wanted to visit for resupply.
    Trail name Catnapper

  5. #5

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    For medications, you can use a national chain like Walgrens, CVS, or RiteAid (perhaps Walmart, but I am unsure if they share Rx data like the others or not). Figure out how many days you will get out of the Rx (weeks or months depending on insurer supply limitations) and calculate where you are likely to be a few days before running out, look at the towns you will be passing through in the refill window and you will likely be able to find one of these national chain stores, who will be able to call up your Rx record(s) and refill the needed Rx on the spot. I travel extensively all over the US and that's how I manage my Rx's for both work related travel and long distance treks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Okay, it's technically illegal to mail prescription drugs unless you are a pharmacist or medical provider - even to yourself. https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c4_019.htm Whiteblaze prohibits discussing illegal acts, so no one here should tell you to go ahead and it will arrive okay just like anything else you might mail.
    Way to pull the rug out from under what could be a pretty useful thread.

    So, let's see. . .
    If you're not talking about drugs that are commonly abused and/or sold and stolen to sell on the street . . .
    And, if they are drugs you need to manage your health . . .
    And, there is not a reasonable and reliable way of supplying yourself. . .

    I guess that means that you just have to give up on your idea of long distance hiking.

    From a "historical" perspective, I'd like to suggest that people responsibly mail drugs to themselves all the time in situations like this, "technically" legal or not.

    The reliability of any mail package is what it is and you probably already have a pretty good feel for that. You're not new to this planet. Things do very rarely get lost. Things often take a few more days than expected to arrive, but generally not weeks. When backpacking, you always want to make sure you have a backup plan in the case of the very rare exception that could otherwise lead to a serious health risk.

    I have always been completely unaware of the above mentioned guidelines/rules/laws. So, let me share a story accepting the risk that my post might get me in trouble.

    Last year, my then 20 year old son with Type 1 diabetes, decided he wanted to hike the PCT. He is on an insulin pump and if he runs out of insulin or his insulin goes bad, he's dead. It's that simple. And, insulin is temperature sensitive, so it is supposed to be shipped with ice packs in an insulated container and then picked up within a day or two of its arrival to avoid extended unrefrigerated storage. So, over the course of five months, I shipped a number of packages to my son with insulin, other necessary drugs, and lots of drug paraphernalia to support both his pump and his blood testing meter. I always told the post office what what was in the box that I was shipping and I always told UPS or FedEx what I was shipping. At no point did anyone ever question what I was doing or suggest that there was anything wrong or illegal about my actions.

    At one point, near northern Oregon something happened (I don't remember what) and my son ran out of, or broke, or lost something critical to his care. My recollection is that he was forced to get off the trail at the Columbia river, hitchhike into Portland, find a pharmacy, wait 48 hours until they could get his prescription transferred (I think there was a pharmacy or insurance screw-up in the story as well) and get whatever it was he needed, and then get back on the trail. It was a pain, but then, crazy crap happening, and figuring out how to deal with it successfully is part of most great adventures.

    My son finished his thru-hike of the PCT about the first of October with no real emergencies, no handcuffs, no fines, and lots of pictures and great memories.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  7. #7

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    I would keep anything that's really important with you.

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    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Okay, it's technically illegal to mail prescription drugs unless you are a pharmacist or medical provider - even to yourself. https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c4_019.htm Whiteblaze prohibits discussing illegal acts, so no one here should tell you to go ahead and it will arrive okay just like anything else you might mail.
    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    Way to pull the rug out from under what could be a pretty useful thread. ...
    I fixed it in case reading between the lines is too difficult.

  9. #9

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    I talked to my doctor about writing my maintenance meds (blood pressure) for 90 days with three refills so I will start the trail with 90 days worth and I can call them in at any pharmacy along the trail. He said if I had any problems to call his office and he would call whatever pharmacy I'm at and help me along. This should work pretty smooth with non-narcotics.
    "I love the unimproved works of God" Horace Kephart 1862-1931

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    Quote Originally Posted by The DeafGuy View Post
    Thank you! Hadn’t really given that much thought but it makes sense. I guess I just need to come up w/ some other way to get them. Any ideas?
    Carry a 30-day supply. Find out the chain pharmacies along the trail, and get your doctor to send prescriptions to those chains.
    Time is but the stream I go afishin' in.
    Thoreau

  11. #11

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    I would carry extra medical items in case the bounce box fails to show up and you need to go to a plan B.
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  12. #12

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    Like most old guys, I take some regular meds. Aside from the potential legal issues, I wouldn't go thru the hassle of a bounce box. Carry a copy of your Rx with you, because there will be plenty of pharmacies along the way. And if necessary, the pharmacist will contact your home drugstore if they need verification. I refilled at Walgreens in Marion VA, and at a CVS in CT. Post offices have limited Saturday hours and are closed on Sunday; chain drugstores are usually open 7 days a week. A real pain if you arrive in a town after the PO closes on Saturday, and have to wait until Monday morning to pick up your box.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Okay, it's technically illegal to mail prescription drugs unless you are a pharmacist or medical provider - even to yourself.
    A quick search finds that CVS (and I bet other pharmacies) will mail prescriptions for like a $5 fee.

    So it seems like you potentially have two simple choices:
    1. Transfer your prescription to a national chain so that you can get it refilled at chain stores along the way.
    2. Get your pharmacy to mail them to you... I would think you could drop-ship them to the post offices you otherwise would have sent bounce boxes.

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